In today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about how to build your credibility as a business owner and entrepreneur.
I understand that in times gone by, your credibility was measured by the size of the shoulder pads in your jacket… but those days are gone.
I absolutely adore talking about this topic, and I have some very specific advice in this space to share with you.
Let’s dive in!
More and more online, we hear about this need for credibility and creating “expert status” for yourself. We hear about social proof and all of the things that help people to make a decision to invest with you. “People want to work with leaders. They want to work with experts. They want to work with people they trust and who are really credible.”
I totally understand that this can be something that we think is very important when we first start our business.
But in today’s episode, I want to talk about decreasing the need for projecting credibility and expert status and also creating a sense of expert credibility in an authentic, heart-centred way.
First of all, let’s talk about why we think we need to have this expert status or credibility.
Why do people crave it?
I find that, particularly for women in the online business world, it’s because we don’t want to have to sell ourselves.
We actually look to external validation in order to make us feel like we are a trusted source, we are an expert, we are valuable, and we are worthy.
But by trying so hard to keep seeking out all of this expert status and proof of credibility, we are often devaluing what we are actually worth…
We are devaluing what we have to offer.
We are saying to ourselves, the universe, and potential customers and clients: “I’m only valuable and reliable and a valid source for you because I’ve got this expert status, because of something that’s outside of me.”
You might feel that same resistance to selling yourself, you might feel that same resistance to just standing in your power and being yourself and saying: This is who I am and this is what I have to offer you.
I understand why it feels like a real safety net to have that expert status, external validation and credibility, and to be able to say that you have certain certificates validating that.
There are better ways that you can create that credibility, but I want us to cover that off at the end of this podcast episode, once we have actually reduced the need for it after we recognise that our desire for that expert status or credibility is just a crutch. It’s a sense that because this trusted source says “I’m good,” or because all of these people give you social proof, it means “I’m good.”
We’re going to actually reduce the need for it first, and then we’re going to build your credibility and expert status in a heart-centred, very authentic, very connected way.
First of all, let’s reduce the need for it…
All that I’ve just explained to you may have worked in the past. After most people hear everything I’ve just said, they often think:
- “Oh my gosh, I’m totally trying to hide behind my 17 certificates.” Or,
- “Oh my gosh, I’m totally trying to use 45 testimonials in my webinars because I don’t want to say that I’m good. I want other people to say that I’m good.”
Even just knowing what’s going on for yourself can often reduce that desire to have all of this external validation.
People trust it less these days.
When you go to a sales page and you read the 25th testimonial, you’re thinking to yourself, “Okay, I get it – other people like you, can we just move on? And can you just tell me what you’re going to do? Can you just tell me what I’m going to get out of this? Can you just tell me what the value of this is?”
That’s what we really want to know when we’re buying something – particularly when we’re buying from a personal brand.
We want to know that this person understands us, this person has something that can help us, this person is deeply committed to helping us get that outcome, and this person knows how to get us that outcome.
We can get all of that reassurance and information from you just speaking about what it is that you have to offer – we don’t need to hear other people talking about you.
That external validation does not have as big an impact on our ability to decide whether you’re good or not, whether you’re going to have a good service or not, as a sense of connection to you.
For example, when you go to a barbecue and you meet an electrician, and they say, “Oh, yeah, I’m an electrician.” You don’t then go and Google to find five other electricians. You don’t ask them, “Do you have external references?”. No – you met that person, you’ve created a connection with them.
Often you’ve met them through someone that you already know, and so that creates that initial connection, but you trust them because you’ve had a conversation with them.
You choose them because you’ve got a connection with them.
Not because they tell you, “Oh, yes, Jen over here actually had some lights installed by me a few weeks ago. Would you like Jen to tell you how amazing my light installation was?” That’s not why we make these choices!
We want to make sure that in our business, we’re not actually costing ourselves sales by focusing so much on the external validation that we’re not actually talking straight about our products and services.
It doesn’t have as big of an impact as we think it does.
Our connection strategies will help us create higher conversion and get the results we’re looking for and make the sale wayyyy more than testimonials, social proof, trusted recommendations, being seen as an expert, 45 different certificates, or that “as seen in” bar across the bottom of your website that has 14 publications that are no longer in print.
How can we increase connection to get that conversion happening rather than increasing your social proof, external validation credibility, or expert status?
1. Connect via humans
Humans love buying from humans. You now have ads for banks on television saying, when you call our call centre, you’ll speak to a real live human being… that is a selling point.
If you’re a human who is selling services to humans, guess what?! You already have a competitive advantage. Just connect and be human. Allow people to ask you questions.
When I’m in the mood to buy something, I am much more swayed by the ability to type an email to someone and ask for some clarification on something and get an answer from them than I am swayed by the 45 fake testimonials that they’ve got on the sales page.
Allow people to connect with you, be human and show your human side, and you might just find that you get way more results than you ever will get with any of that external stuff.
2. Get good at talking to your outcomes
Instead of relying on other people to tell your ideal clients that you’re good at what you do, instead of relying on other people or certificates to speak for your work, learn to speak for your work well.
Learn to speak about the:
- Outcomes that you are able to create for your ideal clients
- Value proposition of your products and services
- Transformation that you are facilitating
If you were to invest all of that time you’re spending on getting that external stuff, on really nailing your messaging and your value proposition, you’ll get way faster results anyway.
3. Be transparent
I find it so connecting and engaging when someone says, “You know what, I haven’t got all of that figured out. But I’m really good at this, and if you need this, this is what I’m going to help you with.” Or people saying things like, “This is my first year in business.”
I actually find that I’m more drawn to people who are in start-up.
It might be because I love helping people in start-up and I love investing in working with people who are in start-up and helping them get their business moving really quickly. I’m very passionate about women in business, but often the things that you are hiding are actually part of your value proposition.
For example, I was working with someone in her early 20s, and she didn’t have any photos of herself on her social media or on her website.
When I asked her about getting some photos onto her socials and website, she said, “Oh, no, people are gonna judge me because I’m too young.”
She was worried that older people wouldn’t buy from her because she thought they would perceive her as too young.
When we worked out who her ideal client was, it was actually women in their 20s and 30s. She wanted to work with young, vibrant, vivacious women, so the thing that she was trying to hide – her young age – was actually a value proposition in her work.
I see this happen to a lot of people who say, “Oh, well, I’m not really qualified.” They’re trying to hide the fact that they’re not necessarily qualified. But they actually could be highlighting that all of their abilities come from practical, grounded experience.
Often the thing that we’re trying to hide, the thing that we’re worried about, or the thing that we don’t really want to bring attention to is actually the full, transparent, authentic self.
Another great example was when I was working with someone who has a chronic illness.
She said, “Well, I don’t want to tell too many people about this illness, because then they might think that I’m going to be unreliable.” But in talking about it we realised, “If your ideal clients also are dealing with a chronic illness or something that stops them from showing up fully, wouldn’t it demonstrate to people that you deeply understand what’s going on for them?”
If you start the relationship with people knowing your situation, then those people who choose to buy from you will be more understanding, and you’ll be able to create safety nets and systems because you’ve been transparent about it.
Once she started to embrace that, her business boomed.
Connect to the human, talk to the outcome, and be more transparent in your business.
With all of that in mind, now that we’ve dialled down your need for this expert status and credibility and dialled down your need for external validation, you can see that credibility doesn’t come from externals, it comes from internals…
Here are three things you can do that will give you that extra edge of credibility:
Focus on a very specific niche.
One. Very. Specific. Niche.
When you focus down on a very specific niche, you are instantly telling people you specialise in solving this particular problem for this particular group of people.
By creating that focus, what you’re actually doing is putting yourself in the specialist category, very quickly, almost instantaneously, just by choosing to focus.
This is a really interesting one because so many people struggle with consistency – particularly when they first start in their businesses.
But actually, the number one driver of trust in a relationship is that I can accurately predict how you are going to behave.
Let me say that again: The number one driver of trust in a relationship is that I can accurately predict how you’re going to behave.
If you say “I put out a new video every Tuesday,” and then you don’t put a video out every Tuesday, you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, you are eroding the trust that you are creating with that audience.
That is derailing your credibility way faster than you can rebuild it up with expert testimonials.
Be really mindful about how you can ensure consistency in your business.
That includes consistency in delivering what you say you’re going to deliver to your clients. When you tell clients that you’ll do something for them by a particular deadline, you hit those deadlines and exceed them.
When you say you’re going to do something for someone, you actually do it, you show up consistently, and you provide value consistently. You send your newsletter consistently.
All of those things actually give you way more credibility than a bunch of testimonials on your website.
For so many women in business when they first start out, they price themselves so low that people see their prices and do a double-take… Is this a trick?!! There must be something wrong with it.
By focusing on pricing that is appropriate, and consistently reviewing your pricing to ensure that it reflects the level of experience and qualification and the time that you’ve been in business, you can actually be insuring the credibility of your business as well.
A lot of coaches have taken this message and run with it so far that they will say things like, “If you’re charging under $3,000, you’re wasting your time.”
I actually do not subscribe to that model.
When you’re first starting out in business, you need to charge a price point that feels really comfortable for you, because the early phases of your business are when your confidence is the lowest, and your worries and wobbles are most likely to come to the fore.
If you are also charging a huge price that you’ve never charged before, you have no idea if people will ever pay you for it, so when you don’t make sales, it can create some really big wobbles for you.
Something that I’ve seen happen that’s even worse is: If someone gets convinced that they should be charging $3,000 or $5,000, and they put their price up from $1,000 to $4,000, and they make a sale – they’re celebrating, they’re going, ‘Oh my god, this is so amazing’. And then months pass before they make another sale.
And they can’t put their prices back down because someone has paid the full price.
Then they start doing secret offers to people behind the scenes, or they’re rocking in the fetal position in the corner because they don’t know what to do – they’re stuck at an impasse.
I am a big fan of incremental price increases and consistently reviewing your prices.
When I first started my business, I charged $97 for an hour. I’m now charging $2,000 for an hour, but I’ve gotten to that over incremental price increases over a period of time.
When I first started my business, it was very aggressive. It was consistent that I increased my prices as I developed my confidence and as demand for my products and services went up, and I was developing online courses and all sorts of things.
But honestly, if I had jumped into it being $5,000 or nothing to work with me when I first started my business, I know that all the mindset stuff and all the money blocks that would have come up would have been very difficult for me to overcome.
I also know that that predictability of income for me would have been so low that I wouldn’t have been able to make some of the moves that I did in my business.
The higher you go with your prices when you’re first starting out, the less people you’re working with.
When I first started my business, I wanted to work with as many people as possible, because I needed to practice and I needed to work out my processes.
I wanted to understand people really deeply and understand what their challenges were, what wobbles they had, who did their homework, and who didn’t do their homework.
I needed to work with a wide range of people within my very specific niche so that I could get really clear, really calm and really confident.
If I’d gone straight to the $5,000 or nothing model, I wouldn’t have got all of the experience that I got in the first six months, the first year, and the first two years of my business – which is now the foundation of this rock-solid business that I have today.
Pricing does give a reflection of your experience and your expertise and your credibility, but I don’t want you to drive yourself up to a price point that puts you in wobble mode, robs you of the opportunity to work with a bunch of clients and build your confidence, and achieving that real deep knowing within that you know your stuff, you can get the outcomes, and you are here to stay with a sustainable business.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the podcast!
Questions about this episode? Comments? Continue the conversation in the Facebook Group using #podcastaha and the episode number (195).
Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.